Letters to the Editor

By Letter to the Editor

Noise on 57th Street

To the students of the University of Chicago: Now that autumn quarter is underway, those of us who live on 57th Street would like to remind all of you that our street is not only commercial but residential as well. You may not realize it, but your voices carry, especially in the evenings. When you are walking back and forth between the campus and the 57th Street restaurants or the Metra station, we can hear every laugh, shriek, and—more to the point—private conversations. And you are not talking about Heidegger or where Einstein went wrong with the Unified Field Theory.

My husband, who works for the University, likes to joke that he used to think U of C students were too busy studying to have sex. The conversations we’ve heard floating up to our windows and balcony indicate precisely the opposite in amazingly intimate detail. In fact, some of you like to pause in the alley next to our building and discuss your relationship problems at length, often with the problem’s first and last names being freely tossed around. Sorry, folks, but we really aren’t interested in what you’ve been doing between classes with Joe Smith, that brooding Classics major from Cleveland.

So, as you are wandering down 57th, try to keep the concept of discretion in mind. At least keep your voices down. You may not care what total strangers hear about you, but I promise, it’s a lot more than we want to know.

And confidential to the young lady whose boyfriend likes to do odd things with hot onion rings: for God’s sake, run!

Leslie Brown Kessler

57th Street resident

The future of Iraq

Much of my opposition to the Iraqi war stemmed from the sense that the reconstruction of Iraq would be botched because the U.S. was a poor agent for this (much-needed) change. Yet despite my opposition to this war, I can’t support the sentiment, growing more popular daily, that the U.S. ought to pull out of Iraq immediately. What I find troubling is not the conclusion that the U.S. ought to withdraw but that most of its proponents offer it out of ideological pride, rather than considered analysis of the Iraqi situation. It’s an unfortunate direction for the anti-war movement, which generated such considerable energy this spring, to omit Iraqi suffering from the moral calculus.

This answer also undermines the integrity of anti-war arguments that considered Iraqi lives under Saddam as one of many important factors leading to the anti-war conclusion. Before the war, some war proponents tarred all those opposed to this war as indifferent to the Iraqi plight. Certainly, the inability of the group ANSWER (which sponsored the D.C. and New York protests) to confront the issue of Saddam’s tyranny weakened its argument, yet ANSWER was far from representative of the full range of anti-war thought. The presence of both John Mearsheimer and Rashid Khalidi as speakers at last year’s anti-war teach-in attests to that range. It may be for just that reason—the disunity among opponents of this war—that some in the anti-war camp are attracted to the so-called solution of “bring our boys home.” It represents a regression to the pre-war period, when, despite our varied reasons, even Pat Buchanan and I could find something in common. For groups like ANSWER, who benefit from drumming up the largest crowds, it’s not beneficial to encourage positions that relate to Iraq’s changing situation. Instead, ANSWER pushes the closest possible corollary of its original position, altering it only slightly from not entering Iraq, to not staying. Rubber-stamping the continuing occupation with disapproval is to deny the current reality and to replace Iraqis’ realities with a knee-jerk fantasy: go back, and put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Instead, I hope that anti-war activists seek the best possible conclusion to an episode badly begun. That conclusion should, of course, eventually include the removal of U.S. troops and should prioritize Iraqi empowerment over American corporate spoils. But to prioritize that removal above all else, even above the stability of Iraq and the welfare of its citizens, is to pare down the issue, leaving Iraqi lives on the cutting room floor.

Emily Alpert

Viewpoints Staff